The Queensland Farmers’ Federation (QFF) and industry members are frustrated and disappointed with the reintroduction of vegetation management legislation into Queensland Parliament yesterday. The proposed Vegetation Management and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2018 has been referred to the State Development, Natural Resources and Agricultural Industry Development (SDNRAID) Committee for consultation.
QFF President Stuart Armitage said the legislation was poor and unbalanced, and it should not have been introduced without first going through an inclusive, evidence-based consultation process involving all key stakeholders.
“QFF has always, and continues to, advocate for a sensible vegetation management framework that properly addresses environmental, social and economic sustainability and provides much needed certainty. This is in everyone’s interest, regardless of your position on the issue.
“With an electoral mandate, the government had the opportunity to put solutions-focused policy above politics and conduct a proper process. Unfortunately, it has acted irresponsibly and not done this.
“That responsibility now falls on the SDNRAID Committee, and we will see if Queensland’s ‘house of review’ has any relevance or not.
“The proposed removal of high value agriculture and irrigated high value agriculture shows a lack of understanding and objectivity, and is a serious mistake.
“Already the most regulated part of the legislation, these provisions enable small areas of clearing to help deal with climate change, enable best management farm practices, and realise better environmental outcomes.
“On top of that, it is strategic and responsible clearing for high value crops* which provides a huge economic boost to regional economies and much needed long-term direct and indirect jobs.
“If the Committee is fair dinkum, it will listen to the genuine concerns of the farming community and accommodate constructive, evidence-based advice to recommend the stable, workable vegetation management framework that farmers, regional communities and the environment deserve.
“If the Committee doesn’t deliver the policy accountability it is supposed to on this vexed issue, then we might as well scrap the Parliamentary Committee process altogether and save taxpayers some money.”
QFF and members look forward to providing constructive, evidence-based advice to the committee and the government to ensure the much needed, balanced, long term solution to this issue can be realised.
* Only 5,600 hectares were approved to be cleared for irrigated high value agriculture between 2/12/2013 and 2/2/2018 (over 4 years).